HB 55: Agreement to Elect President by Popular Vote

Why NM Legislators Should Vote for HB 55

HB 55: Agreement to Elect President by Popular Vote

Summary:  The National Popular Vote interstate compact would guarantee the U.S. Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It would take effect once enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—enough to elect a President (270 of 538). So far, the compact has been enacted by 12 states possessing 172 electoral votes. It has passed at least one house in 11 additional states with 89 electoral votes.

History:  National Popular Vote bills were introduced in New Mexico in 2009, 2017 and 2018. The New Mexico Senate passed the bill (SB42) in 2017 by a 26-16 margin. The House Government, Indian, and Veterans Affairs Committee approved the bill 5-4, but the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee tied 3-3, defeating the bill.

Why This Bill Is Good for NM

  • The shortcomings of the current system of electing the President stem from state laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most votes.
  • This bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.
  • By moving toward a national popular vote, we can begin the process of regaining voters’ trust in our elections and ensure their voices are equal to every voter across the country.
  • Because of state winner-take-all statutes, five of our 45 Presidents came into office without winning the most popular votes nationwide; the 2000 and 2016 elections are most recent examples. Near-misses are also common: a shift of 59,393 votes in Ohio in 2004 would have elected John Kerry despite President Bush’s nationwide lead of over 3 million votes. The national popular vote winner would also have been defeated by a shift of 9,246 votes in 1976, a shift of 77,726 in 1968, a shift of 9,212 in 1960, and a shift of 20,360 in 1948.
  • Currently, presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to issues concerning voters in states where the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Two-thirds of the 2012 general-election campaign events (176 of 253) were in just 4 states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa). Thirty-eight states were ignored completely.
  • A 2008 survey of 800 NM voters showed 76% support for a national popular vote for President: 84% among Democrats, 64% among Republicans, and 68% among Independents.

Supporting Organizations

  • Common Cause New Mexico
  • National Popular Vote New Mexico
  • New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics

Showing 22 reactions

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  • charles gregory
    commented 2019-03-11 16:01:02 -0600
    Here is how it plays out, John: your vote and mine in New Mexico are of exactly the same value as the votes of two residents in Los Angeles. That doesn’t make you or me or any other New Mexican a “nobody.” Equality is not a weird concept, although you can argue that, traditionally, the Founding Fathers were ok with the inequality of counting three out of every five non-voting slaves as one voting white Southerner. Maybe that’s where my distaste for the current inequality among voters depending on where they live comes from.

    Here’s how it played out in 2016. Two New Mexican votes for other than Hillary Clinton were of equal value to two Los Angeles votes for other than Hillary Clinton. They were each, and all together, equal to zero. I want my vote to count. Yours, too, John.

    You are in error when you state the “entire purpose of the electoral college” is to level the states’ playing field. The other purpose sprang from the Founding Fathers’ fear that a demagogue would be more likely to win a popular election than one with a set of independent and responsible electors. For better or worse, as we have grown from a fledgling nation to the robust country we are today: 1) the electoral college has been converted to a rubber stamp of the political party system; it’s purpose as a buffer has been neutered; 2) it is now easier for a demagogue to win an election by targeting only the populations of a few states with the electoral votes he or she needs to win.

    You may have understood me to propose “the president of the United States is part of a world government,” but that is neither what I said nor what I meant.

    I do agree with you that, given enough time, the Democrats will be in the same position as the Republicans whose candidates won the presidency but lost the popular vote — unless the National Popular Vote becomes law. Then, whoever gets the most votes wins. Sounds like a concept.

    As for your hypothetical question of the NVP vote delivering a Trumpian-quality president the popular vote and a “socialist” the electoral vote, I would stand with whatever the law is, just as I would if we retain the electoral college. Will the NVP prevent us from making poor decisions? Of course not, no more than the electoral college has. The key difference with the NVP is that a poor decision would be made by a majority rather than a minority of the citizens. As I wrote previously, NVP isn’t going to make American great again. It will ensure all our votes count, and that the will of the majority prevails.
  • Jon Herr
    commented 2019-03-10 18:12:43 -0600
    Alan,
    I don’t think it’s a good idea to be able to impeach the president without congress. It sets up an instability that will exist at every presidency. There were points in Obama’s presidency (and others) where a lot of people wanted Obama impeached. If what you are proposing were put in place then Obama would have potentially been thrown out as well. Like it or not… our system works.

    Charles,
    There are more people that live in one California city… LA (4 million) than the entire state of New Mexico (2 million) how does it play out that we have any say in who is president if we’re so grossly outnumbered? That is the entire purpose of the electoral college. Without the college we are nobody.
    Also America is PART of the world but NOT subservient to it. We don’t to give up our national identity in order to participate on the world stage. You’re proposing that the president of the United States is part of a world government. Really? Is that what I understood? I guess I know where you stand on the sovereignty of the United States.

    I think the motives of changing to NPV are because Hillary and Gore lost. Really the system worked as designed and California, New York did not select our presidents. The day will come (unless we go NPV then all will be lost) – when a Democrat president wins the electoral and loses the popular vote. I say this because times change. I think we’re going to see the Democrats start sounding like Republicans as it becomes harder and harder to stave off the full up socialists that have hijacked the Democrat party.

    There is a possibility, however remote, that we switch to NPV just i time for my latter prediction to happen. Trump wins the popular vote and loses the electoral vote to a socialist. Then where you stand?
  • charles gregory
    commented 2019-03-10 17:55:54 -0600
    Alan: four points:
    1. The urban/rural divide existed, but in reverse, when the Founding Fathers came up with the electoral college.
    2. If the electoral college functioned the way it was meant to, you would not be suffering a President you find unfit for the office.
    3. If a majority of Americans elect a person who is unfit to be President, then we will suffer the consequences of the “tyranny of the majority” rather than what you are currently suffering: the “tyranny of the minority.”
    4. In our state, anyone who voted for any other Presidential candidate except Hillary Clinton would have accomplished the same thing if they’d stayed home and watched TV instead.

    I’m no believer in either the wisdom of the majority or the infallibility of the Founding Fathers. But here in the twenty-first century, states are not the entities they were two centuries ago, nor is our country a fledgling nation far removed from world events. We’ve already amended the Founding Fathers’ notions by the direct election of Senators, and by giving the vote to non-land-owing white men, then men of color, then women. As for the electoral college, we’ve actually moved to make it illegal for electors to exercise the independence the Founding Fathers expected of them. The National Popular Vote recognizes we are voting for the President of our nation, not our state. Will it make American great again? Probably not, but it will make its leader the people’s choice.
  • Alan Feldman
    commented 2019-03-10 13:11:40 -0600
    The reasons we have an Electoral College will not go away… the framers were concerned about sticking solely with majority rules. I agree with that concern. If the President were to be chosen solely by the majority vote then American citizens living in rural areas would not find their concerns reflected in policies because the vast majority of Americans live in urban areas. I hate the fact that Donald Trump won the Presidency – he is not fit to be President. But this proposed change is not the way to remedy such poor results… rather we need to have a way to institute Impeachment of the President, Supreme Court Justices and other Federal officials that does not rely on the Congress in addition to the Congress’s ability to Impeach.
  • Jon Herr
    commented 2019-01-31 11:59:44 -0700
    I appreciate true liberalism vs. radical leftism as well. Only a fraction of American society fits completely in to the radical definitions.

    Unfortunately, this end run around the Constitution is radical leftism. I really don’t care if it is presented as “the ends justify the means” – it’s not the right way to go about this…. change the Constitution through amendment or leave it alone.

    I also wouldn’t go as far as to label the Prager U guys as radical right wing talking heads. I’m not saying you did but it is implied that their message isn’t worth hearing because they are a conservative organization.

    There are good points contained in their presentation. There’s also a great chance that the popular vote law will be passed without much public debate or scrutiny.

    Sometimes the best thing lawmakers can do is NOT pass laws. We don’t have to ‘move forward’ without the public being aware where we are going in the first place.

    I’m clearly not going to change your mind. You’re not going to change mine. I hope the law doesn’t pass but assume it will. I think it’s misguided and dangerous in the long run.
  • Hans von Briesen
    commented 2019-01-31 11:41:43 -0700
    I appreciate real conservatism, to be distinguished from right-wing radicalism, understanding that a real liberal in the U.S. has to be somewhat conservative, and a real conservative in the U.S. has to be somewhat liberal. I also recall that the most eloquent criticisms of democracy are contained in Madison’s notes to the Constitutional convention. Would that the Electoral College functioned as intended instead of consisting of obedient, partisan agents. I also honor the doubts of HB 55 that are based on principle rather than the unfortunate situation concerning the electors.
  • Jon Herr
    commented 2019-01-31 11:01:26 -0700
    I guess conservative voices are to be discredited these days.

    I ask you… If the popular vote for President is such a great and acceptable idea then why not just change the Constitution? That’s how the system is supposed to work. If you can do it on the up and up then you’re going against the will of the people.

    If you’re going to throw landowner and race in to this then why not go back to Democrats supporting slavery? What is the true history of the Democrat party?

    There’s dirt on all sides. It doesn’t mean that we go around the Constitution to get our way.
  • charles gregory
    commented 2019-01-31 07:31:03 -0700
    JOHN HERR: I watched the five-minute film, then googled its source, Prager University. As per Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PragerU “PragerU, short for Prager University, is an American non-profit organization that creates videos on various political, economic and philosophical topics from a conservative or right-wing perspective.” That pretty much suggests an underlying agenda for campaigning against the national popular vote. In this century, we have had two Presidential elections the conservative and right wing would have lost if the people, rather than the states, determined who would be President. This is about control, not democracy, in the same way that voter suppression is about control, not democracy. The PragerU speaker does make two good points, however: the need to eliminate the electoral college altogether and the need for a uniform election code. That would make 2018’s shameful gubernatorial election sham in Georgia much harder to perpetrate.

    If you and the PragerU commentator believe in the wisdom of the Founding Fathers so much, why are you not campaigning to roll back the popular election of US Senators, or the extension of the vote to non-white, female, and non-land-owing white males?
  • charles gregory
    commented 2019-01-31 06:54:49 -0700
    HANS VON BRIESEN: Excellent points. You are correct about the Electoral College and about its purpose. You are also correct that the national popular vote would disempower low-population states. However, it would not disempower the citizens of low population states or of any other states as the current electoral college system does now. The Senate — two senators from each of the states regardless of population — is where the small states have their checks and balances in the governmental process. Whether states or citizens should elect the President is the issue you’ve raised. Good question.
  • Jon Herr
    commented 2019-01-31 06:06:49 -0700
    It’s worse than anything that has been discussed so far. This effort to go around the electoral college does more than remove NM’s vote, popular or otherwise, it only depends on getting to 270 electoral votes. Once that threshold is achieved then there is no need to consider the popular vote from anywhere else in the country.

    This attempt to go around the electoral college will probably wind up in court, maybe the supreme court. Depends on how much damage is done by then I guess.

    This 5 minute video summarizes what you’re proposing and contrasts it with where we are today.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXnjGD7j2B0

    On the other hand, we’ve already departed from the Constitution… As Hillary Clinton famously said, “at this point, what difference does it make?”
    https://freedomoutpost.com/trashing-the-12th-amendment-with-the-national-popular-vote/

    We are free to vote away our freedoms and protections. Next we’ll be free to vote and take things from others that we have not earned. Tell me exactly how this is a good thing? Its going to take us to a really bad place. World history shows this to be true. America is no different, and things can go bad here.
  • Hans von Briesen
    commented 2019-01-30 20:51:58 -0700
    Had the Electoral College worked as envisioned, it would have rejected Donald Trump as unfit. But the Electors are denied the power to make such judgements, remaining agents of their political parties. Yet, election by a popular vote would indeed disempower low-population states as such. The significances of states themselves in national elections would vanish. Is this good or bad?
  • charles gregory
    commented 2019-01-28 19:50:21 -0700
    Hi, Vasaloloa. The quote confused me (Why would anyone vote for something they don’t want?), so I went to Google for clarification. Here is what I found in Wikiquotes [https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Eugene_V._Debs]: “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it,” is probably a misquote, rather than spurious. In the speech, “Competition versus Cooperation,” delivered at Central Music Hall, Chicago, on 29 Sept. 1900, Debs said, “It is infinitely better to vote for freedom and fail, than to vote for slavery and succeed.” I’m not sure how this applies to the national popular vote, and would welcome your development of the theme.
  • Vasaloloa Carrazco
    commented 2019-01-28 16:33:07 -0700
    It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.

    Eugene V. Debs
  • charles gregory
    commented 2019-01-28 11:42:27 -0700
    John H: you are right about our being a “flyover state” if we adopt a national popular vote. But we already are a “flyover state” for the same reason: our electoral votes are hardly worth the effort.

    You are wrong about my vote counting if I vote for the losing candidate in New Mexico. I think you know this. There would be no difference in the outcome between voting for the losing candidate and staying home and not voting. If you want to preserve the electoral college, maybe propose splitting the electoral votes the way the state votes. That, for example, would have given Trump about 40% of our five electoral votes, and Johnson some 9%. Messy, but you get to keep your electoral college and make my vote count regardless of who I vote for.
  • charles gregory
    commented 2019-01-28 11:35:54 -0700
    Michael Z: a peculiar argument about the electoral college being intended to protect the rural populations from the urban ones. When the electoral college was established, the country was almost completely rural. I think you’re confusing history with the completely contemporary concerns of the rural demographic. I also think the reason the Founding Fathers chose the electoral college is because they did not trust the common man to be sufficiently wise and informed to make good choices. We were, as you will recall, founded as a Republic. We chose electors to elect a President; we chose state legislatures to choose our Senators for us. The Founding Fathers distrusted unlanded white men, all non-white men, and women of all colors. Perhaps this is also a concern for you? In any case, note that we’ve changed the electors’ function from independent electors to folks who better vote for the candidate of the winning party or face legal problems. We’ve moved to direct election of Senators. Despite conservative lip service to “originalism,” the country has by and large moved its governmental processes out of the eighteenth century. Now, if you want to argue the original idea that we, the people, do not make informed and wise choices, you certainly have an arguable thesis. Go for it.
  • Jon Herr
    commented 2019-01-27 21:16:04 -0700
    Should just call this the “flyover state” law. Future Presidents will just fully over our state for more populous ones. NM will be ignored for what do our votes count. Our population is so small that our votes won’t matter without the balance provided by the electoral college.
  • Vasaloloa Carrazco
    commented 2019-01-25 19:03:16 -0700
    Political Roadie in the house! I fully support this bill! Enough is enough! Every vote must count! The electoral college is a relic of the past that needs to be abolished in order to “get with the times!” Time to move forward already!
  • Jon Herr
    commented 2019-01-25 11:10:15 -0700
    I don’t need to try and educate you. There’s plenty of material out there for you to educate yourself.

    You might research: Tyranny of the Majority and Direct Democracy. There’s plenty of scholarly articles about why the electoral college saves us from ourselves.
  • Michael Zimmerman
    commented 2019-01-25 11:04:39 -0700
    Charles Gregory, it may feel that we’re insignificant, but our votes do count. your take on the vote not counting is not valid, because if you won by one vote, you helped contribute to that – either way. Our forefathers founded the EC for a reason – to combat exactly what this movement is about. Bullys in congested areas drinking their own bathwater trying to force their ideals on the rural areas. The founders did not find the EC as a mistake – it was very well thought out, as they saw in other countries the bullys of populace forcing their ideals on the rurals.
  • charles gregory
    commented 2019-01-25 10:53:29 -0700
    Jon, what you fear happens now with the electoral college. We’re definitely a tiny force as a state. Even worse, when your vote is for the losing candidate, your vote doesn’t count at all. You might as well not have voted. Explain to us what’s bad about making your vote count, or making your vote equal to any voter’s vote in California, New York, or in any other state?
  • Jon Herr
    commented 2019-01-25 10:21:54 -0700
    Going around the electoral college will result in mob rule and instability. It sounds good but will leave NM unrepresented as we will be dwarfed by the population centers of the country. Our future presidents will be elected by California, New York… worse, when a President that NM doesn’t like is nominated we will take a back seat. This is a BAD idea. I’m sure it will pass because it feels good right now but it will come back around to hurt NM.

    Might want to study world history before making this change. Pure democracies always fail. The electoral college was put in place for a reason.
  • Nicholas Brown
    commented 2019-01-25 07:56:57 -0700
    Al Gore was President !